Home > Ubuntu > A Critical Look at Ubuntu Feisty Beta A Critical Look at Ubuntu Feisty Beta Submitted by Charl P. Botha 2007-04-10 Ubuntu 44 Comments “This is a more critical than usual mini-review of Ubuntu Feisty beta on an HP NC8430 laptop. It practically examines some of the problems laptop users will run into when trying to run Feisty on their hardware.” About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 44 Comments 2007-04-10 7:38 pm raver31 I like it when a reviewer is honest and does not come off with the usual….. “OOOOOOh it rocks. Ubuntu is amzing, Windows is pants, format all the Windows machines” There will always be problems, and sometimes problems need to be highlighted, even if it is just to give an idea of the issues someone might face when trying it themselves. The grass is not always greener! 2007-04-10 8:44 pm flanque Ssshhhh!! You’ll be modded down! 2007-04-10 8:52 pm ThawkTH Hahaha. What do you think this is, /.?! J/K, even here there’s always that risk. (And I do love /. …I read it almost as often as OSN. Osn looks so much nicer on my Blackberry though…) I agree – we need far more honest reviews that actually REVIEW…For God’s Sake, this is an entire OPERATING SYSTEM (well, a distro…but still…) It’s nice to see a SYSTEM reviewed with hardware mentioned more than in passing. 2007-04-10 7:43 pm fretinator Linux will never totally work on laptops as well as Windows until the laptop is sold with Linux pre-installed by a major vendor, such as … Dell. Otherwise, there will always be little issues here and there. A vendor could add custom tweaks and modules to make everything work. Suspend and resume are flaky because of the way drivers are written. IIRC, they are supposed to handle this, but it practice they often don’t. 2007-04-10 8:22 pm Morin I object that it has to be a *major* vendor. Small ones could do this as well. Size doesn’t always result in the better product. Especially as several such vendors can cooperate much like the developers already do. Of course, a small vendor wouldn’t have the huge palette of products that Dell could offer, but a few very well-done products do the job. Apple has proven this. 2007-04-10 8:42 pm fretinator I could be wrong, but I think only a larger company would have the resources to tweak the drivers to the level they need to be as good as the windows drivers. Also, testing, support and maintenance (patches) would be involved. 2007-04-10 11:48 pm Oliver Crap – a tire-company for example doesn’t need zillions of testers too, if you’re using some quality software engineering you do have certain means to test quality and reliability. On the other hand, who with a sane mind would like to be an tester for tires, so to say and early adopter? As I said, no one with a sane mind. So a big community as mark for quality or development is just nonsense. 2007-04-11 2:58 pm BluenoseJake My father works for Michelin Tire, and Tire companies do have testers – thier employees. They get very high discounts on tires from Michelin, 85-90% and they have to return the tires to michelin after thier useful life. Michelin evaluates the wear on the tire, and uses that as part of it’s quality control system. That is a very large community. Many eyes find many problems, whatever the product. 2007-04-11 4:19 am vikramsharma People are too quick to jump the gun and blame lack of driver support on Linux. Wireless doesn’t work, or a particular graphics card isn’t supported or an audio card is not supported, it’s job of the hardware vendor to provide the driver and not the Linux developer. The average Joe customer does not care about that, but that’s a different issue. Lack of support from the hardware vendor has forced many a times the Linux developers to reverse engineer and produce crappy drivers, thanks to companies like Broadcom, ATI, etc. Apple or Microsoft have good driver support from the hardware providers hence things work without any (or I should say many) hitches. 2007-04-11 9:29 am netpython thanks to companies like Broadcom, ATI, etc. Apple or Microsoft have good driver support from the hardware providers hence things work without any (or I should say many) hitches. Maybe you are generalising a bit.I have a hauppagge tv-card (bttv module) that’s running better with tvtime on linux than with the original vendor driver under windows. 2007-04-11 9:45 pm FreakyT True, but if I reinstall Windows XP from scratch, and install the drivers from the manufacturer’s website, it will work just as well (if not better) as it did when it had Windows preinstalled. With Linux, having vendors create modified Linux distributions for laptops would be more of a band-aid than a true solution, since it would still be impossible for the computer to work with a “normal” (that is, not the special one that came preinstalled) Linux installation. (There would be no way for the manufacturer to put an installable “Driver Pack” for Linux on their website, as they can with Windows.) 2007-04-10 7:50 pm adamk Other than having to use fglrx with my Xpress 200M (which may soon be supported by the open source 3D drivers), everything worked perfectly on a new gateway laptop I have with Edgy. Suspend/resume, audio, wireless, SD slot… I was really quite happy when everything worked so smoothly. I hope Feisty continues this new tradition of impressing me. Adam 2007-04-10 7:51 pm apoclypse that actually give an honest review. Its nice to see somebody actually testing hardware. Ubuntu needs more people to speak up about these issues so that they can get resolved. A lot of the issues with the dynamic display should hopefully be much improved with xorg 7.3 and eventhough ati wouldn’t have been my first choice of video card the reviewer had no choice in this instance and had to make it work. Had he went with nvidia or intel things might have been different. 2007-04-10 10:38 pm SlackerJack Ubuntu users do speak up, just look at this thread in the Feisty forums. http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=391834 Edit: Fixed typo. Edited 2007-04-10 22:39 2007-04-10 7:51 pm celettu I’m not saying this isn’t a good review, or that these issues the author mentions don’t exist. But I wish people would stop reviewing every alpha and beta of Feisty. It’s pointless. It’s, by definition, NOT the final product! Seems to me that people are so excited about Ubuntu Feisty that they want to read anything about it, no matter what. 2007-04-10 7:55 pm apoclypse That is s true. I’ve seen two Ubuntu srelated stories here on this sit e in one day. I like the distro as much as the next guy but even I think its too much. Its nice to see that Ubuntu has such a huge following and that its name is used to draw a crowd but at some point its going to get tedious. 2007-04-10 8:01 pm unavowed I don’t mind people reviewing alpha releases as long as they mention in the opening paragraph that this is actually an alpha version. 2007-04-10 9:18 pm tsedlmeyer It would also be nice if people didn’t enable unsupported features (XGL) and then complain that things don’t work right. Maybe there is a reason Ubuntu doesn’t enable XGL out of the box or provide an easy method to enable it as they do with AIGLX? 2007-04-11 1:07 pm B12 Simon I’d say the reviewer was reporting that it didn’t work, rather than complaining. This is one of the most balanced Linux reviews I’ve read to date. 2007-04-11 2:27 am flanque But I wish people would stop reviewing every alpha and beta of Feisty. It’s pointless. It’s, by definition, NOT the final product! I don’t see a problem with it. People want to see progress reviews. Windows surely get it and takes a beating almost every time. 2007-04-10 7:54 pm Yomama Very nice review. Even though I’m not a Linux user I think Ubuntu is going in the right direction. Lets not forget this was a beta and those bugs will be ironed out soon. This is what the community needs, honest and unbiased reviews. 2007-04-10 8:07 pm vanfruniken … as they have done for years in MacOSX? Take the support for hi-res screens. Why aren’t 1440×900, 1680×1050, etc. not supported? I understand it only takes a few lines in a config file to do this. This not just puzzles me, it means Linux developers have no clue about the non-geek community they mean to target. Edited 2007-04-10 20:07 2007-04-10 8:20 pm smitty … as they have done for years in MacOSX? To be fair, I think everything would just work in Linux as well if they had a limited amount of hardware to support and full specs on all of it like Apple does. Take the support for hi-res screens. Why aren’t 1440×900, 1680×1050, etc. not supported? That’s always confused me too. It seems like it would be one of the easier things to fix and yet no one ever seems to do it. 2007-04-10 9:12 pm tsedlmeyer 1680×1050 has worked out of the box for me for several years with several different distributions. 2007-04-10 9:48 pm adamk With the vesa driver? Adam 2007-04-11 1:04 pm leech I could be wrong, but I don’t think 1680×1050 and 1440×900 are even standard vesa modes at all. But he’s right, with my nvidia card in my laptop, it’s always detected and set up 1680×1050 out of the box, then it’s just a matter of switching to the nvidia driver. I do know there was a laptop that I set up that had a Radeon 9700 in it. For some reason the radeon driver didn’t work right in it, so I installed the fglrx driver, but had to wait for an update for it to look right. The version that was out at the time was broken for it’s native resolution (which as 1440×800 or some weird resolution like that). 2007-04-10 8:31 pm Morin > This not just puzzles me, it means Linux developers have no clue about > the non-geek community they mean to target. It puzzles me just as well why nobody takes Linux as a platform to implement a complete end-user system just the way Apple did. Take a talented developer, a talented product designer, and somebody with a clue about usability, then start off where Linux is now. I don’t rate Linux very high in usability or coolness, but that’s exactly the exercise to solve here – and you actually get a lot of help since (1) it can already do a lot, if you are an expert (which you should be if you try to build a product), (2) it’s free in both senses, and (3) you can ask the community (though some people can be quite offensive when they hear that you want to build something that “just works”). Now if doing that just wasn’t so boring… 2007-04-10 8:34 pm adamk Why aren’t 1440×900, 1680×1050, etc. not supported? The chipset in his laptop is not supported by any open source driver, so Feisty defaults to the ‘vesa’ driver. The vesa driver is generally considered a failsafe driver and. I’m going to hazard a guess that it tries to use the minimum configuration it thinks it can get away with. If it starts up X at 1440×900, and the monitor doesn’t support it, the user doesn’t see anything, which is certainly a worse situation 🙂 2007-04-10 11:10 pm kadymae And is there a reason somebody at “Team Ubuntu” can’t edit the VESA driver? 2007-04-10 11:30 pm adamk Perhaps they want the vesa driver to fallback to basic, commonly supported resolutions, rather than trying more rarely supported resolutions. Adam EDIT: By the way, have you (or anyone else, for that matter) opened up a bug report about this? Maybe they’ve never made these changes because they just never saw the need. Edited 2007-04-10 23:33 2007-04-10 8:45 pm unoengborg Apple have the advantage of controlling the hardware, so it isn’t all that amazing that they have managed to make things just work. Linux, FreeBSD, Microsoft,… doesn’t have that advantage. As long as the software vendor doesn’t control the hardware the new bugs will turn up. Betas are for finding such and bugs and other flaws in the software so they hopefully can be fixed before the final release. 2007-04-10 11:09 pm kadymae Take the support for hi-res screens. Why aren’t 1440×900, 1680×1050, etc. not supported? I understand it only takes a few lines in a config file to do this. Yes. Thank you. Becuase I’ve yet to see a clear, valid reason given why this Doesn’t. Just. Work. right out of the box, given that the fix is fairly simple. It’s stupid dren like this that causes people to write off Linux before they’ve had a chance to see how cool it really can be. 2007-04-11 12:38 am archiesteel Installing Windows on a PC for which you don’t have the driver supported out-of-the-box will also default to a (possibly lower) safe resolution. As long as the proprietary driver is not installed (which is now very easy in Feisty with the restricted driver installer), this is the kind of behavior your *want*…it is preferable to risking a resolution which is too high for the chipset/monitor. 2007-04-11 6:43 am draethus Why aren’t 1440×900, 1680×1050, etc. not supported? The VESA and VGA drivers are only intended for graphics cards made 10 years ago, which have no better driver. The reason his laptop is using them by default, is that there is no driver for ATi cards that ships with Feisty, so it falls back to the lowest common denominator. Windows does the same, by the way! Resolutions like 1440×900 didn’t exist back in the day (it’s not even 4:3) so not all graphics cards support them, and Feisty has to use safer settings. It would be interesting to find out whether you get all the resolutions with a card supported out-of-the-box, like an Intel. If not, that would be a real bug. 2007-04-11 4:07 pm Isolationist Ubuntu Feisty Beta uses the appropriate driver *by default* for my Intel 855 video card on my laptop. However, the installation defaults to 1024×768 resolution, and doesn’t offer the preferred 1280×768 resolution. A quick fix to this is to install 855resolution, which changes the resolution of an available vbios mode. This change is made at boot time. It would be good if distributions like Ubuntu detected this at installation time, and setup 855resolution accordingly. 2007-04-11 6:22 pm kadymae It would be interesting to find out whether you get all the resolutions with a card supported out-of-the-box, like an Intel. If not, that would be a real bug. Intel 950 graphics are NOT supported out of the box by Ubuntu. Believe me, I know. 2007-04-11 2:08 pm apoclypse Sure they just work on OSX. With Apple hardware. Linux has far more hardware to support. lets see how well Apple does when it comes to dealing with as much hardware as Linux does. I doubt it would pass the test. 2007-04-11 7:55 pm google_ninja Sure they just work on OSX. With Apple hardware. Linux has far more hardware to support. lets see how well Apple does when it comes to dealing with as much hardware as Linux does. I doubt it would pass the test. That is a good explanation, but the fact remains that an end user wants his hardware to work, the reasons that it doesn’t are irrelevant. 2007-04-10 9:08 pm audun He noted that the XGL had problems after suspending and resuming. I have experienced the same problem with Vista on my MacBook (I have given Microsoft 8GB of my HD). Sometimes after resuming, the transparency etc. doesn’t work. It’s back again after restart.. Maybe they should cooperate to find a solution. 2007-04-11 1:17 am archiesteel I had this problem with my laptop as well (with Edgy)…I solved it with a script that stops and starts Beryl as a service, then added that service to the list of services to stop in the suspend configuration file. A less than ideal solution. This seems to be something for the Beryl/Compiz teams…I doubt that they’ll get much cooperation from Microsoft though (in any case I imagine the reasons this happens on Vista is quite different than for Beryl…). 2007-04-11 1:45 am Archangel I used to have issues suspending and resuming with Beryl or compiz – but with recent Beryl builds on AIGLX it works nicely. I guess that isn’t an option for this guy though since he’s stuck on XGL. On that note, I didn’t realise fglrx doesn’t do composite. What are ATi’s driver team doing? I thought they said some time back that they were going to make more of a push towards doing decent Linux drivers – not supporting composite is a joke. 2007-04-11 11:48 pm archiesteel Actually, I just upgraded to Feisty and tried suspending without stopping Beryl, and it seems to work now, so all is well (I still need to stop networkmanager, though…) 2007-04-10 9:45 pm miro as somebody other alredy said the guys from xorg are working on the resolution problems (modesetting in kernel) also randr 1.2 should be the answer to monitor hotplug, even nvidia seems to like the idea and might use it as well (for their closed source drivers). I hope that I can switch to nouveau this fall/winter. for the battery life, there is a lot of work being done on making the kernel not wake up the cpu more often than needed (dynamic tick etc). I also hope that ext4 devs will think about laptop users. you see we are getting there, not even two years ago there was no hal automounting magic, no udev, no dbus, and don’t forget about inotify which essentially made nice searching&indexing possible! Browser: Palm680/RC1 Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; PalmSource/Palm-D053; Blazer/4.5) 16;320×320 2007-04-10 10:49 pm siki_miki Dyntick will improve battery life, but there are also many services (“jobs”) running in battery mode which shouldn not even be there. This includes e.g. indexing or probably dozens of non-optimized daemons which periodically do misc polling or log stuff, thus waking up CPU and hdd, up to eye candy like beryl/compiz which just warm up a GPU. Luckily with upstart it will be possible to dynamically turn various services on/off depending on whether laptop is connected to AC power source or not, maybe next Ubuntu could already approach Vista and XP on battery life. I suppose X protocol isn’t ideal for battery life either, as it has too many round trips and lots of “talk” to send visuals and other data through socket. Unlike XP where windowing system (widget based, so less talk) is in kernel and probably is able to keep CPU awake periods shorter (XP might be the battery king even compared to Vista). Other mentioned problems sound easily solvable, or at least developers are aware of them and are being worked on (xorg 7.3, kernel modesetting + video memory management).